Perhaps this post will seem a little late. Good Friday was months ago, so perhaps it’s not very timely. But I wanted to write about it, because I’ve seen and heard it said jokingly for years now:
“What do you mean ‘Good’ Friday? It wasn’t very good for Jesus!”
So, why do we call it “Good” Friday, the day Jesus suffered and died upon the cross?
It’s about blood.
Blood and water, actually.“But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water (John 19:34).”
Crucifixion was brutal.
It was a horrible, humiliating, extremely painful – and agonizingly slow – way to die.
The pain was excruciating – in fact, the word excruciating means “out of crucifying.”
Searing agony, extreme fatigue, great waves of cramps, struggling through it all just to breathe. Hour after hour of pain upon pain. As His heart struggled to pump blood, as His lungs worked to gasp air, as His body suffered from extreme dehydration, as His spirit was crushed under the weight of the debts – our debts – that He carried, His heart broke when the Father – something you and I will never have to experience because of Him – turned His back on the Son, at last His body gave out, and death came upon our Savior.
Jewish law did not allow for burials to take place on the Sabbath. To leave men hanging on the cross on the Sabbath would have been to profane it. And this particular Sabbath was also the Passover, a high holy day.
So things needed to be hurried along.
The usual way this was done was for the Roman soldiers to break the legs of the crucified. Without the ability to raise themselves up, death by suffocation came quickly.
But when the soldiers came to Jesus to hasten death, they saw that it was not necessary, for death had already come and gone.
But then, perhaps to make doubly sure of His death, or perhaps as yet another senseless show of cruelty, one of the soldiers drove his lance through Jesus’ side.
And immediately, we are told, blood and water flowed.
There is a lot of speculation about why there was blood and water. It could have been fluid buildup in His lungs or, some have argued, it was from Jesus’ heart being pierced. That would prove that Jesus did not die in the usual manner of suffocation, but of heart failure – or even, perhaps, of a literal broken heart.
It sounds poetic, but the Bible is not clear on this point. Perhaps the only reason we are told this is so that we truly know that Jesus was really dead – there was no possibility of a false diagnosis.
But whatever the physical reason or explanation, I think there is both a spiritual and a symbolic explanation.
Because the blood that flowed from Jesus’ side, is the same blood that was shed for you and me.
To cleanse us from our sins.
Jesus’ blood was – and is – the living waters that bring us to salvation.
We were ransomed by the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:17-19).
We have been freed from our sins by the blood of Christ (Revelation 1:5).
We were once separated from God – but now we have been brought near by the blood of Christ (Ephesians 2, esp. v.13).
We are purified by the blood of Christ (Hebrews 9:11-26).
When we take communion, we participate in the blood of Christ (1 Cor. 10:16).
“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world- our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is he who came by water and blood – Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree (1 John 5:4-8).”
“But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water (John 19:34).”
Blood and water flowed from our Lord, when He was pierced for our transgressions.
Blood and water, when He was crushed for our iniquities;
Blood and water, the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him,
Blood and water, by His stripes we are healed.
Good Friday is a dark, dark day.
But Good Friday is a good day.
Blood and water, we are healed.
Blood and water, we are forgiven.
Blood and water, we are baptized.
Blood and water, we are saved.
“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’ And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, ‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.’ Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, ‘Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?’ I said to him, ‘Sir, you know.’ And he said to me, ‘These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes (Revelation 7:9-17).'”
Robes washed white in the blood of the Lamb, who will guide them to springs of living water.
Blood. and Water.
That’s what makes Good Friday Good. And that what will always make it timely, no matter what the calendar says. Thank You God, for Jesus. Thank You for the cross. Thank You for blood and water. Thank You, God, for Good Friday. Amen.